Logo of Pro Cricket
|Motto||Fast n' Furious Global Action|
|No. of teams||8|
|San Francisco Freedom|
Pro Cricket was a professional cricket league in the United States. It was operated by American Pro Cricket LLC (APC), a private company independent of the ICC and the USACA. The league was formed in 2004 as one of several independent efforts by different organizations to develop and promote cricket in the United States. APC originally announced that it was fully funded for at least three years of competition, but the league struggled through in its initial season due to poor attendance. Also, a deal to televise games on Dish Network apparently fell through. The league ceased operations after the 2004 season.
- Overs consist of five balls instead of six.
- Bowlers could bowl up to five overs each (25% of the total), meaning only four bowlers are needed rather than five.
Additionally, the league used a "designated hitter" rule, in which teams consist of 12 players, 11 of whom field and 11 of whom bat. This was similar to such rules existing in some domestic List A cricket competitions. All of these changes were designed to shorten the game and produce more aggressive batting, which the league administrators believed would help make the sport more appealing to the US public.
Each team was allowed a limited roster of global players from professional cricket teams outside the U.S. The ICC however ruled that because Pro Cricket was not organised by the USACA, contracted players from ICC Test nations could not be released from their contracts to play in Pro Cricket matches. However, several notable players without contracts, such as Ajay Jadeja, Daren Ganga, Mervyn Dillon, and Rahul Sanghvi took part in the competition.
Although cricket had a strong following in the U.S. up to the mid-19th century, its popularity dwindled with the rise of baseball, and it remained an almost unknown sport throughout the 20th century. The U.S. was one of the first nations to become an Associate Member of the ICC, in 1965, but growth of the game there languished until the late 1990s, when the ICC focused development efforts on the country. Progress since has been slow but steady, and many hoped that Pro Cricket would prove to be a turning point in the popularity of the sport in the U.S. As events unfolded, it became clear that this was not to be.
The league consisted of eight teams in two divisions. The East division was also known as "The Covers" and the West was known as "The Mid Wickets", listed with home grounds:
- New York Storm (Staten Island, New York) – Richmond County Bank Ballpark
- New Jersey Fire (Bridgewater, New Jersey) – Commerce Bank Ballpark,
- D.C. Forward (Bowie, Maryland) – Prince George's Stadium,
- Florida Thunder (Homestead, Florida) – Homestead Sports Complex,
- Chicago Tornadoes (Schaumburg, Illinois)– Alexian Field,
- San Francisco Freedom (San Francisco, Northern California) – Kezar Stadium,
- Los Angeles Unity (Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Southern California) – Arrowhead Credit Union Park
- Texas Arrow Heads (Houston, Texas) – Cougar Field at the University of Houston
The competition involved round-robin home and away games between all pairings within a division, followed by inter-divisional semi-finals and a final. The schedule ran from the opening game on 19 June 2004, to the final on 4 September 2004. In addition, Pro Cricket had a policy of not playing the games that have no importance to them on the points table. The game scheduled for 21 August 2004, between Chicago and Los Angeles was canceled due to the lack of importance of the game. Neither team could have made the playoffs even if they won the game; therefore, Pro Cricket chose to not play the game.
- 2004–San Francisco Freedom defeated New Jersey Fire.
- Pro Cricket official web site (as archived by the Wayback Machine on September 4, 2004)
- Baysox Bowie, Pictures of D.C. Forward matches against Florida Thunder and Jersey Fire